aussie blooper

Aussie Airwaves, sailing during Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week with a white spinnaker and a colorful blooper, draws attention.

Blooper like its 1999.

Several types of the good kind of bloopers were celebrated last weekend during Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week. The annual Southern California regatta is hosted by “kissing cousins” yacht clubs that share a bay, Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) and Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC).

There were sunny skies and wind conditions steadily built over the three-day regatta for the more than 100 boats racing, along with 1,000 sailors and volunteers, including scores, judges, registrars and support crew.

Aussie Airwaves, in the PHRF A fleet, offered those on the course a rare sighting of a blooper, a bosomy triangular sail somewhat like a spinnaker sail that was developed under the theory that they kept IOR boats from broaching. They were flown along with a spinnaker. It is claimed to keep them filled, sailors need to sail straight downwind. Most of these types of sails are only seen in vintage sailing calendars.

Despite the Aussie’s impressive sailing, the crew of Argo 3 from Santa Barbara YC took PHRF A over Aussie Airwaves, who was consoled with the LBRW Travel Trophy for venturing the furthest distance to compete.

Blooper-fixers: Bob Hubbard and the team on board Dos Amigos were sailing on their Random Leg course when crew on board spotted a vessel in distress. According to Hubbard, Dos Amigos changed their course and found the small fishing boat was taking on water and the two fishermen on board were using a small cup to bail. Dos Amigos crew acted quickly — providing a bucket, calling the Coast Guard, and confirming the anglers had lifejackets on board. They stayed until help arrived — and Hubbard said the entire sortie took about 11 minutes.

The crew on PHRF A Random Leg boat TNT seemed to be having the most fun, even when they “blooped” with two protests, and even sailed on one of the courses backwards.

On board the media boat, volunteer driver and ABYC Staff Commodore Chuck Clay traditionally takes a route so he can thank race management folks, check on boats that retire early, fix fouled flags on the racecourse, and yet he still manages to spot cool stuff. He was the first to note Aussie Airwaves' impressive sail inventory. The borrowed media boat Clay was driving lost the ability to turn; the steering fluid reservoir was bone dry, resulting in a close call on the first day of racing, granting even those not racing a blooper of their own.

Mike Pentecost and Nice Asp grabbed the lead in the 20-boat Viper 640 fleet, and never let go. The rookie in the Viper 640 fleet, Lisa Meier, experienced a variety of “learning opportunities” (bloopers) ending with the finale of a spinnaker halyard snapping. Her unwavering positive attitude earned her a coaching offer from Pentecost, ending a weekend of happy bloopers.

40-year History

Retired LBYC general manager Luis Izurieta explained some of the event’s early history.

“The regatta’s roots go back to the late 1970s, when Dr. Robert C. Kelleher presented the concept of Long Beach Race Week at the club’s board of directors meeting," he said. "His vision was a world-class invitational regatta limited to 30 entries in three classes, on the same level as St. Frances YC’s Big Boat series.”

In the 1980s, under the leadership of commodore Phil Murray, the regatta doubled to 60 entries. In the mid-1980s, the Golison Family, along with various sponsors, hosted the event for the next 20 years.

Today, Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week is hosted by neighbors Long Beach and Alamitos Bay yacht clubs and draws racers from San Diego to San Francisco, with even a few entries from the western U.S. and neighboring nations, plus Australia and Germany.

According to the 1987 event program, “The race is designed to draw the Hawaiian-bound Transpac boats which migrate to Southern California from distant parts.”

The 50th running of the classic Transpacific Race will kick off with the first starts on Wednesday, July 10. The Aloha sendoff events will be rocking Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach July 6.

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